“What in the name of all that is holy” you may be asking, “is this strange music I keep hearing?!?!”
Then again you may have somehow missed the clatterous din pervading every corner of the internet (if indeed the internet has corners), or maybe you heard the din but haven’t asked about it…
We call it skweee — the synthetic funk. It’s a new style of electronic dance music, and the first to originate in Scandinavia. Born in Sweden in 2006, it spread like wildfire… to Finland! And then — well the fire wasn’t that big so there really is no “and then”. They are not so used to starting worldwide trends in electronic music in Scandinavia, in fact this is the first time it’s happened. But skweee is slowly but surely becoming international, with producers and DJs bringing the sound in from the cold in the UK, France, Norway, the Netherlands, the US, Canada, and who knows where next, even as the Swedish and Finnish innovators continue to lead and inspire.
Skweee has been described as “conflict R&B” and has a multi-rooted history, drawing from techno, IDM, C64/SID chip/Gameboy sounds, and most importantly electro-funk. Tiny melodies poke through gritty textures, like plants growing from cracks in an old parking lot. It’s thoroughly modern music which reaches back for essential bits from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Skweee features slow uneven grooves, beckoning you to dance, and to contemplate. Tempos are mostly around 100 BPM, but have been known to dip as low as 65 and as high as 120. Skweee has a distinctive sound yet remains wonderfully diverse – captured in skweee record label Harmönia’s slogan, “You know that it’s skweee when you feel that it’s skweee”.
Two record labels are primarily responsible for the recorded output of the skweee genre. Flogsta Danshall was the first, and it’s founder, Swedish electronic music producer Pavan is often credited as the father of skweee. Hot on its heels came Finnish label Harmönia, run by Mesak from the eclectic duo Mr. Velcro Fastener, and Randy Barracuda from electro outfit Imatran Voima. These skweee pioneers have released their own tracks as well as stellar tunes from a combined stable of about twenty skweee producers. One of these is Daniel Savio aka Kool DJ Dust, often credited with coining the word “skweee” in addition to being the first skweee DJ.
The recorded format of choice for skweee is seven inch vinyl records, and both labels have released several classic sevens. Harmönia has also released three skweee compilations on twelve inch, while Flogsta Danshall has just released their second CD compilation.
In my next post I’ll get into Skweeelicious and what we’re going to do here –- it’s all very exciting! But before you go be sure to download some skweee classics below, and check our links section for more information and to get connected to the skweee community.
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